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Women in Psychology

Abstract It is safe to infer that the study of psychology is ever changing and advancing in many facets.This advancement is due to the many physiologist, theorist, psychologist, and scientist that have dedicated their beings to studying of the human mind and human behavior.Amongst these professionals, stand some very influential women.

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These women have played very important and often key roles in the development of psychology as we know it today.

I will highlight the contributions of some major roles females have played in psychology, and conclude by discussing the contributions of Americans first female psychologist Christine Ladd-Franklin, her background, and theoretical perspectives of psychology. Women in Psychology Psychology as we know it today is the study or science of the human mind and behavior. Psychology up until 1870 was a branch of philosophy and then developed as an independent scientific discipline. In 1879 began the study of experimental science with Wilhelm Wundt in Leipzig.

This marked a historic and very important moment in psychology. Though Wundt is the first to experiment with psychology, there were also others who followed very closely. Charles Peirce, particularly, who was the first American experimental psychologist, also had a major contribution. In Charles Peirce journey in psychology, he worked very closely with Christine Ladd-Franklin, who later became the first woman involved in the three disciplines: logic, psychology, and mathematics.

Although we don’t hear much about women and their involvement in psychology, some women offered some major contributions to the field of psychology between 1850 to present day. Psychology as we know is the study or science of the human mind and behavior. Although we don’t hear much about women and their involvement in psychology, some women offered some major contributions to the field of psychology between 1850 to present day. Women such as Mary Whiton Calkins, Maria Montessori, Margaret Floy Washburn, Karey Horney, Christine Ladd-Franklin, and Anna Freud had significant contributions to the field of psychology.

Some contributions include, but are not limited to such as paired associate techniques, “Children’s House” for “ psych- pedagogy,” which is an educational method for child psychology, the founding of “The Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis” as well as the Hampstead Clinic, a treatment center for child psychology. These women had great accomplishments in the world of psychology. However, for the purposes of this paper, I will be discussing the workings and contributions of Christine Ladd-Franklin.

Christina Ladd-Franklin was born in 1847. She attended Vassar studying mathematics, since the field of physics (her primary interest) was not available to women. She later attended John Hopkins University, where she completed the requirements for her PH. D, but due to the fact that women were not allowed to graduate from the University, she was not given her PhD until years later. Ladd’s dissertation paper was written on the “Algebra of Logic,” and she became the very first women involved in psychology, mathematics, and logic.

Once Ladd left Hopkins, she worked side by side with G. E. Müller who worked on memory activity, the mathematical prodigy, color vision, and also his analysis of the method of introspection. Ladd was very interested in Müller’s study on color vision, and in turn proposed her own color vision theory. In part she suggested that “some animals are color blind and assumed that achromatic vision appeared first in evolution and color vision came later. She assumed further that the human eye carries vestiges of its earlier evolutionary development.

She observed that the most highly evolved part of the eye is the fovea, where, at least in daylight, visual acuity and color sensitivity are greatest. Ladd-Franklin assumed that peripheral vision (provided by the rods of the retina) was more primitive than fovea vision (provided by the cones of the retina) because night vision and movement detection are crucial for survival ( Hergenhahn, B. R. 2009.. ” She further stated that color vision evolved in three stages, the black and white stage, the blue -yellow stage, nd the red –green stage. She suggested that more people suffered with red-green color blindness because it was the last to develop. Her theory was controversial, but it slowly gained partial acceptance. Ladd reportedly had involvement in the “Purkinje phenomenon,” that was developed by Hermann Ebbinghaus when she was working in his laboratory. In her later years, Ladd became an advocate for women’s suffrage and assisted in the development of the Sarah Berliner and other research fellowships for women.

Women in the 18th and 19th had very difficult times attaining a career in fields such as psychology, physics, and mathematics Due to the lack of women’s rights, their ideas, studies, theories, and works were often unwelcomed. However, despite all powers against Christine Ladd-Franklin, she continued to push on and accomplish exceptional feats. She died in 1930, but her legacy lives on in women psychologist and historians of psychology today.

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